No evidence of hate crime in killing of Fred Taft, police say in new statement

Long Beach police released a statement Thursday regarding assertions that the slaying of a black Long Beach man July 21 was a hate crime, but they divulged no new information about the investigation.

Police said the killing of Fred Taft, who was shot in the bathroom at Pan American Park, has not been deemed a racial attack—but that they are seeking a white man in his 50s in relation to the crime.

“The motive for this crime has not yet been determined and is still under investigation,” police said Thursday. “The Police Department will not classify a criminal act as a hate crime unless there is evidence present that meets this legal standard.”

Police said officials including Deputy Chief Richard Conant and East Division Cmdr. Erik Herzog met with members of the Ministers Alliance last week to discuss the case.

Police also attended a Lakewood Village Neighborhood Association meeting on Saturday to address the killing and the safety of the neighborhood. At the Saturday meeting, members of Taft’s family said the father and grandfather was targeted because he was black.

“If he was missing his phone or wallet, we would think maybe this was a robbery or something,” Mareatha Moore, the mother of Taft’s daughter, said at the time.

Police on Thursday said patrol officers are continuing to closely monitor Pan American Park in Lakewood Village and the surrounding area for any unusual or criminal activity.

Police said they are in regular communication with Taft’s family, and that finding and prosecuting the person responsible for his death is a “top priority.”

Police asked anyone with information regarding this case to contact Homicide Detectives M. Hubbard and A. Garcia directly at (562) 570-7244.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.